STAGS DRAW AT CREWE AS DEMPSTER DEPARTS
English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Crewe Alexandra 1 - 1 Mansfield Town
Anene 8. Cook 27
Attendance: 4060 (312 from Mansfield)
Date: 14 December 2019
Martin Shaw at Gresty Road
Mansfield Town drew 1-1 with Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road this afternoon in probably the best game Mansfield have played in this season. But with the Stags sitting 18th in the table, just two points above 3rd bottom place, 12 points behind the play-off places, and having taken just 22 points from the first 21 games of the season, it was not surprising that manager John Dempster was sacked soon after the game.
John and Carolyn Radford had been very patient with Dempster, and were keen to give him every chance to succeed as a young manager. Prior to last week’s game against Cheltenham, John Radford said: “As we enter a significant month, with five games against teams who too have ambitions of a top seven finish, results must be improved both radically and quickly.” But just one more point from the first two games in December, following the one point from three league games in November, meant Dempster simply hadn’t got the results he needed, and in a results-driven business, he had to go.
On a personal level, it is very sad to see John Dempster lose his job. He is a thoroughly decent bloke, who had done a tremendous job in the Academy. But at first team level, any manager needs good results, and Dempster simply didn’t get enough of them, with just five wins in 21 league games. Hopefully he is soon able to get another job, perhaps back at youth team level, or perhaps as an assistant to a first team manager, or perhaps as a manager in non-league football, and work his way back up. I’m sure Stags fans will wish him well.
Both Crewe and Mansfield had enough chances to win the game, indeed it could have easily finished 3-3, 4-4 or 5-5, and any of those would have been scorelines which reflected the game.
The Stags should have been ahead after 6 minutes, as Nicky Maynard did very well to get into a one-on-one position with keeper Will Jaaskelainen, but then saw the keeper save well. Maynard should have scored.
And within two minutes, Crewe took the lead. Tommy Lowery’s diagonal ball floated over James Clarke’s head to Charlie Kirk on the byline in the area on the left, Kirk played back across goal and Chuma Anene bundled the ball in at the near post.
Crewe then put Mansfield under pressure, but out of the blue the Stags levelled after 27 minutes, as Bobby Olejnik’s long kick forward was headed backwards by central defender Eddie Nolan into the path of Andy Cook, who controlled nicely and lobbed the ball over keeper Jaaskelainen from 12 yards.
Tommy Lowery and Oliver Finney shot narrowly off target for Crewe, but in stoppage time at the end of the half, Maynard was through one-on-one with the keeper again, and again his shot was saved.
Early in the second half, CJ Hamilton was played through into the area by a great ball from Conor Shaughnessy but Hamilton’s cross-shot was in front of Maynard. After 53 minutes, an even better chance for Maynard, as Hamilton pulled back to him and Maynard was completely unmarked 14 yards from goal, but blasted his shot over the bar. Maynard pulled his shirt over his face in exasperation.
After 58 minutes, Mal Benning did well to clear Finney’s shot off the line at the right post. Then Olejnik pulled off a save from a James Jones free kick after 62 minutes.
On 64 minutes, Maynard sent a terrific flying header against the post from a great cross by Alex MacDonald.
In a ding dong battle, Charlie Kirk cut inside from the left and sent a thunderous shot against the right post.
After 78 minutes, a good move from the Stags culminated in a shot from 22 yards from Maynard which was saved at full stretch by Jaaskelainen.
The Stags then should have won in it in the 5th minute of stoppage time as sub Omari Sterling-James cut into the area on the left and with plenty of the goal to aim at, sliced his shot wide.
What a game, a real ding dong battle, with plenty of chances for either side, including five for Nicky Maynard, but sadly for the Stags and for John Dempster in particular, not the victory that they needed to start to turn results and the season around.
FULL REPORT IN THE MATCH CENTRE
Andy Cook earns Mansfield Town a point at Crewe
chad.co.uk, by SPORTS WRITER (Agency), Saturday 14 December 2019
MANSFIELD picked up a point on the road with a 1-1 draw at Crewe Alexandra.
Andy Cook cancelled out Chuma Anene’s opener at Gresty Road as both goals came in the first half.
Manager John Dempster named just one change to the side that was hammered 3-0 at home to Cheltenham last time out.
Teenager James Clarke made his first league appearance since August as Jacob Mellis made way.
The Stags were desperate to bounce back from their thumping and saw an early chance go begging when Nicky Maynard was denied by Will Jaaskelainen one-on-one - one of several opportunities for the striker.
And within the blink of an eye the visitors found themselves behind in the eighth minute.
Loanee Anene completed a fine move to fire home his third goal in two games after Charlie Kirk played him in.
But the Stags switched from defence into attack to score their first goal outside of EFL Trophy football for almost 400 minutes when Cook levelled in the 27th minute..
Goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik got an unlikely assist as Cook latched on to his upfield ball before calmly chipping over stunned shot-stopper Jaaskelainen.
Cook could have doubled his tally minutes later when he headed Alex MacDonald’s pinpoint ball wide.
The first half ended as it started with Maynard being frustrated by Jaaskelainen as the Stags upped the ante.
After the break Maynard squandered his third big chance of the afternoon when he fired over from inside the box.
The hosts upped the tempo around the hour mark and created a couple of presentable chances.
First Malvind Benning was in the right place at the right time to clear Oliver Finney’s strike off the line.
Then Stags’ shot-stopper Olejnik produced a sprawling save to turn away substitute James Jones’ free-kick.
Maynard’s best effort came when he agonisingly diverted MacDonald’s cross on to the post, before being kept out by Jaaskelainen again.
Crewe: Jaaskelainen, Ng, Hunt, Nolan, Pickering, Wintle, Finney (Ainley, 71), Lowery (Jones, 51), Powell (Dale, 80), Anene, Kirk.
Unused subs: Richards, Johnson, Mbulu.
Mansfield: Olejnik, Clarke, Preston, Sweeney, Benning, MacDonald, Shaughnessy (Sterling-James, 67), Bishop, Hamilton, Maynard (Khan, 88), Cook (Rose, 80).
Unused subs: Logan, Pearce, Mellis, Smith.
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Attendance: 4,060 (312)
Crewe Alex 1 Mansfield 1: Frustration at Gresty Road
A point apeice despite rash of chances
cheshire-live.co.uk, By Peter Morse, 14 DEC 2019
Crewe Alex had to settle for a share of the spoils after an entertaining 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town on Saturday.
Chuma Anene's fifth of the season was cancellled out by Andy Cooke, but both sides should have had more goals.
The Alex could not make their pressure pay and Charlie Kirk hit the post while Oliver Finney saw an effort cleared off the line.
But at the other end Nicky Maynard also hit the woodwork and spurned three glorious chances to win it for Mansfield.
It did, however, make it five games unbeaten in all competitions for Crewe, who stay fourth in League Two.
David Artell made two changes to the side which beat Eastleigh in midweek.
Chris Porter was ruled out with a hamstring strain, so Chuma Anene - who came off the bench to bag a brace in the cup - made his first league start for the club.
Daniel Powell, who also impressed as a sub last time out, was preferred to Owen Dale.
Mansfield made one change and former Crewe man Nicky Maynard led their line alongside Cooke.
The scores were level at 1-1 at the break after a first half filled with opportunities.
The Alex had the vast majority of the play, and should have had more than the one goal.
That came eight minutes when Tom Lowery drove to the byline and fed Charlie Kirk who pulled back for Anene to bundle in at the near post.
Oliver Finney blazed over when well placed and there were other near misses, but Crewe were guilty of wasting many good positions when a ruthless edge could have had the game wrapped up.
At the other end, though Stags had little play, they had good chances to score.
Cooke took one on 27 minutes when a simple punt from keeper Bobby Olejink caught Crewe flat-footed and when Eddie Nolan's header gave him the chance the big striker raced through and lobbed Will Jaaskelainen.
But the Finnish keeper made two magnificent saves from Maynard, both from one-on-one situations and both at point-blank range, to make sure Town didn't get more.
There were more opportunities for both sides after the restart, but neither side could find a winner.
Maynard will be wondering how he didn't leave Gresty Road with the match ball after spurning another two great chances after the break.
He blazed over from a great position in his only big miss, while he saw a deft stooping header come back off a post.
Finney saw an effort hacked off the line by defender Mal Benning, and Charlie Kirk's stunning strike came back off an upright when it deserved more.
The Alex applied all the pressure in the cosing stages but could not find a way through, while the Stags looked dangerous right to the end and sub Omari Sterling-James missed a sitter when he went through on goal near the end.
Crewe (4-3-3): Jaaskelainen; Ng, Nolan, Hunt, Pickering; Wintle, Lowery (Jones 51 mins), Finney (Ainley 71 mins), Powell (Dale 80 mins), Anene, Kirk.
Subs not used: Richards, Mbulu, Johnson, Green.
Mansfield (4-4-2): Olejnik; Clarke, Preston, Sweeney, Benning; MacDonald, Bishop, Shaughnessy (Sterling-James 67 mins), Hamilton; Cook (Rose 80 mins), Maynard (Khan 88 mins).
Subs not used: Logan, Pearce, Mellis, Smith.
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Opinion: Dear John, you're unlucky to have been sacked by Mansfield Town after draw at Crewe Alex
Sports editor PETER MORSE gives his verdict on a 1-1 draw
cheshire-live.co.uk, By Peter Morse, 14 DEC 2019
If there's one striker in League Two you'd put your mortgage on to stick away a clear-cut chance it's Nicky Maynard.
And if he'd have known in advance that Crewe would dish up four gilt-edged opportunities to their former frontman, Mansfield boss John Dempster would have probably happily staked his job on the net rippling a few times.
So Dempster can consider himself a bit unfortunate to have been given the sack a few hours after Maynard had somehow drawn a blank and the game ended 1-1 at Gresty Road.
On another day, the 32-year-old hitman would have walked away with the matchball and perhaps Dempster would have had a reprieve.
But if the Stags chiefs saw fit to pull the trigger after a point on the road at a top-four opponent - a week after a 3-0 home defeat - then the writing must have been on the wall anyway.
It was a strange affair, and hard to weigh up in many ways, but sharing the spoils at Crewe is a decent result for League Two rivals this season.
Were the Alex satisfied?
Afterwards, Kenny Lunt asked 'was that a point gained, or two dropped?'
In truth, you could look at this result both ways.
Crewe were by far the better side in general play, enjoyed the lion's share of possession, applied most of the pressure and worked themselves into countless good positions.
The outstanding Charlie Kirk, who teed up Chuma Anene's fifth of the season, rattled a post and Oliver Finney saw an effort cleared off the line.
They certainly could lay a claim to all three points.
But equally, they were fortunate to get away with one.
Only Will Jaaskelainen's heroics, one bad miss and the woodwork kept Maynard out, while Omari Sterling-James missed a sitter deep into injury time.
The Alex looked ponderous and vulnerable in defence at times, and had a number of lucky escapes. It's probably a game to take what you get and move quickly on.
That's now five unbeaten, and just two defeats in 17, in all competitions.
That sort of sequence is certainly something to be pleased with, and Crewe are still ticking along in the pre-Christmas period of the campaign which has seen them suffer in recent years.
As manager David Artell said afterwards, they will have to improve but this was not a bad afternoon's work with leading scorer Chris Porter out injured.
However, Dempster, who had been in the Stags role for just seven months, won't get the chance to work on things.
In his after-match briefing, before he got the bullet, he said: "Normally a point away at Crewe would be a very good one."
Clearly not good enough.
Crewe 1- 1 Mansfield
Crewe fourth after points shared at Gresty Road.
Crewe Alexandra had to settle for a point against a spirited Mansfield Town side this afternoon. The Stags had to fight back after falling behind to a Chuma Anene goal after just seven minutes after another assist from Charlie Kirk.
Crewe didn't make their control in the first half an hour count and Mansfield hit back by Andy Cook.
Crewe boss David Artell was left fuming with the goal we conceded but it was no more than Mansfield deserved and on another day, if Nicky Maynard had his shooting boots on we could well have lost the game. He had two one on ones that were well saved by Will Jaaskelainen and he also hit the post with a diving header.
Crewe could have won it too with Charlie Kirk’s curling effort thumping the post. It was a game we could have won or indeed lost and in the end a point was a fair reflection.
Crewe Alexandra boss David Artell made two changes to the side that defeated Eastleigh in the FA Cup on Tuesday evening. One was enforced because Chris Porter was not deemed fit enough to retain his place after he picked up a tight hamstring in mid-week. Chuma Anene who scored a brace in the 3-1 win over the Spitfires replaced the club’s leading scorer.
The other change in the forward positions saw Daniel Powell replace Owen Dale on the right wing.
Mansfield had our former centre-forward Nicky Maynard in their starting XI.
A confident Crewe started brightly and after just five minutes, Oli Finney, whistled one right across the six box and his low shot come cross just cleared the far post.
Maynard threatened to make inroads into the Crewe box but he was well marshalled by the covering Ryan Wintle and he edged him off it.
His next chance in the 7th minute should have resulted in the opening goal for the visitors. Will Jaaskelainen’s underhit clearance in midfield and Neal Bishop returned it back and into Maynard. He was granted too much space and Jaaskelainen redeemed himself superbly well by pushing his well struck effort away. With Maynard’s quality, it was a big chance missed.
They were left to rue that missed chance even more when Chuma Anene finished off a splendid move for Crewe to take the lead. Tommy Lowery found Kirk with a lifted pass over full-back James Clarke and with Kirk’s accurate low cross, Anene had the simple task of tapping home for his third goal in a week.
Crewe then dominated much of the possession and were in control of the game but not really threatening Bobby Olejink’s goal as much as we would have wanted. Another cross coming in from Powell saw Ryan Sweeney just beat Anene to it.
At the other end, Andy Cook met a cross from Alex MacDonald but it was fairly comfortable save for the Alex goalkeeper. Finney also did brilliantly to track CJ Hamilton as he threatened to go through on the break.
Crewe continued to press looking for a second goal. Lowery had a shot from distance that was spilled by Olejink but the goalkeeper reacted well to drop on the loose ball.
Mansfield offered a threat with Maynard’s agility though and Crewe had to keep that back door shut. Connor Shaughnessy shot wide after Mal Benning and Hamilton had combined down the Crewe hand side.
A forceful run from Powell ended in a dangerous enough cross but there wasn’t enough red and white shirts in the opposition box to make the most of it.
Crewe didn’t look under much threat but on 27 minutes, we conceded an awful equaliser from our point of view. A long punt up the pitch out of the hands from the Mansfield goalkeeper was headed into the air by the retreating Nolan and Cook read it. He took one touch before lifting it over the advancing Crewe goalkeeper. It was route one to say the least but it saw the Stags level.
The Alex tried to respond and Anene nearly just a stronger touch to a Kirk cross before Lowery fired just over after good work from Pickering and Powell.
Mansfield always seemed to have a chance in them and Cook wasted a header at the far post when stealing in behind Ng.
Crewe pressed to retake the lead before the break. A sublime pass from Wintle on the side volley found Kirk and he cleverly waited for an overlap from Pickering. His lifted cross just missed out Finney in the centre of the goal and Bishop did well up against the physical Powell at the far post to divert it for a corner.
Wintle, who was growing into more of an influence in the game then raced 40 yards before whizzing one just wide.
Cook got free just before the break on the edge of the Crewe box but Pickering did well to get out and make a block.
Crewe could have retaken the lead when another splendid move involving Kirk and Pickering down the left found Finney in a great position but he couldn’t keep his shot down. It was a good opening for the Alex youngster.
In first half stoppage time, Maynard went through once again, with Nolan in his wake and he was only denied a goal on his return to Gresty Road by the excellent Jaaskelainen.
Lowery started the second half but was forced off early on after being caught on the ankle by Bishop just before half time. James Jones replaced him.
That man again Maynard had another great chance to score after Hamilton got in behind Ng and pulled it back for the Mansfield hitman but he uncharacteristically lifted it over the top. If he had bought his shooting boots, we would have been in trouble this afternoon.
Kirk and Pickering continued to have joy when combining and Finney was unfortunate to see his well struck effort cleared off the line. It was a good effort and a very good clearance from Benning.
Jones’ first real contribution saw his well struck free kick pushed away before Maynard stopped to head against the post from MacDonald’s cross. The visitors certainly came more into it second half but Kirk was always a major threat and after gliding past Clarke, his curling shot thumped the Stags post.
Ainley replaced Finney and was excellent and a Crewe winner looked to be coming from him or man of the match Kirk. Ainley got close to the by line but couldn’t pick anyone out. Jones turned and shot at the Mansfield keeper and Maynard did likewise before he was replaced late. Danny Rose is always a menace but thankfully a chance never dropped to him.
Crewe looked the more likely to grab the winner but we didn’t conjured up that one genuine chance and in truth Mansfield had it with substitute Omari Sterling James sliced a really good chance well wide of the chance.
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